Over the past few days I had many conversations with incredibly loving friends and family who are so concerned about the news that Phillip’s company is being shut down by its parent company. In a matter of days or weeks, Phillip will be without a job because someone, who doesn’t even know us, crunched numbers and determined he, his company and his fellow coworkers, aren’t valuable any more. I’ve found these conversations very comforting. This is tough though, and without the support of friends and family, getting through it would be so much harder.
I’ve been aware through these conversations though, that I have a choice to either be a victim of our circumstances or victorious over them. I’ve fought this battle a few times before.
Many years ago, I attended a party with coworkers that I trusted. A friend offered me a drink and within minutes the room was spinning. I vaguely remember my friend carrying me up to his room and laying me on his bed. As I laid there helpless, he brought a stranger into the room who then grabbed me in inappropriately. As I tried to stop him, I realized my arms were Jell-O and the room faded to darkness. I awakened, three days later, in the same room confused and painfully aware that I would never really know what happened. Though I never had any real memories of what occurred, feelings of helplessness overwhelmed me and needed to be processed with tender care.
When Phillip and I were first married, we decided to try to have a baby. As I watched all of my friends having babies, I went through the heartache of three miscarriages one after another. Finally my beautiful daughter Faith was born. We were filled with joy yet soon we discovered she was critically ill with medical condition after medical condition. While all of my friends were enjoying shopping and playing with their babies, we were watching our precious little girl endure surgeries, and painful procedures. It broke my heart every single day.
Just as we began to see light at the end of the tunnel with Faith’s most critical issues, to our surprise, I became pregnant with my son James. Though I worked so hard to follow all the doctors orders, James was born at 27 weeks. He was just 2 pounds 2 ounces and so incredibly frail. After 10 weeks in the NICU James came home to much celebration and love. Yet, his life has been filled with many challenges. From developmental delays, the diagnosis of autism and intellectual challenges and most recently, bipolar disorder, James has indeed struggled and we’ve felt the heartache of that struggle with him.
During the kids painful struggles I learned to really honor my feelings and theirs. What was/is happening was horribly difficult and mind-bendingly painful. Crying, being discouraged and not wanting to endure any more pain was perfectly normal. Still, my job as their mom was to model how to choose joy, happiness and hope in the midst of suffering. I can’t help but see that if I had chosen differently, I never would have experienced the joy of seeing those characteristics develop in them!
Five years a go, after my nurse overdosed me, things were so hard. Walking was hard, being a good mom was hard, really EVERYTHING was hard. I wasn’t the person I was before and coming to grips with the loss at times, felt unbearable. Because I had indeed been victimized by my nurses carelessness, it was really, really important for me to authentically process all the emotions that came with the helplessness and injustice that had occurred. And, oh my how I did process those feelings over and over and over again. Like the other difficult times in my life though, I reached a point, when I had to ask myself whether I wanted to be a victim for the rest of my life or whether I was ready to let go and allow the Lord to use the painful circumstances refine my character and change me from the inside out. The miracle of my life is that, by God’s grace, I was able to choose victory.
You see, I’m not this incredibly strong woman at heart. I’m frail, broken, and easily discouraged. However, because I walk life hand in hand with Jesus, I have strength well beyond my own. Because of Jesus, I have growing peace today and renewing hope for tomorrow.
Two paths lay before each of us. One is the path of being always being defined as a victim. I promise, this leads to bitterness, disillusionment, hopelessness and anger. The other path, leads to being refined by our suffering, authentically and tenderly caring for our feelings, while at the same time, choosing to live life to the full in Christ. In our own strength, choosing victory is honestly often, utterly impossible. Even with Christ choosing victory can be incredibly difficult indeed. However, day by day; tear by tear; choice by choice; release after release and journeys travailed tenderly and safely with our loving God’s refinement is possible.
Let there be no allusion. I’m still in process and my wounds are still healing. By God’s amazing grace though, I smile more today than yesterday and peace comes more easily than last year. God’s refinement process isn’t always easy but it is beautiful, precious and worth it. I’m in, how about you?